Artificial intelligence (AI) has made it much easier for people to create content with its ability to automatically generate images or text on demand. The United States Copyright Office has recently received more and more filings for material created using these AI tools. In response, the US Copyright Office (USCO) has published a document stating that from now on, the bureau can consider works created by artificial intelligence to be copyrighted. However, certain conditions must be met.
According to US law, intellectual property can only be copyrighted if it is the product of human creativity. Therefore, generative AI machines and algorithms cannot be authors, and their results cannot be copyrighted. However, the US Copyright Office has made concessions to keep up with the changing times. The bureau will now consider AI-generated content if the human author has done something other than simply enter a request.
For example, if a digital image is generated by an AI tool and then edited with Photoshop, it is more likely to be accepted by USCO. That is, the original raw image from the neural network cannot be copyrighted, but the final product created by the artist with its help will succeed. The bureau’s decision will depend on the circumstances, such as how the AI tool works and how specifically it was used to create the final work.
It is necessary to immediately indicate how AI technologies were used to create content. And also to show which person made specific parts of the work. Suppose the above information is not disclosed, or the applicants attempt to deceive the bureau. In that case, USCO will revoke their registration certificate, and such work will not be protected by copyright law.
It is worth noting that digital art, such as images, poetry, books, etc., created with tools like DALL-E, Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, and ChatGPT cannot be copyrighted unless created exclusively by the machine at the user’s request. In these cases, the traditional elements of authorship are determined and performed by AI technology, not by its human user. Therefore, the hints the user provides are more like instructions for an artist, defining what the user wants to display. However, how this is implemented is entirely up to the machine. Recently a group of artists has filed a class action lawsuit against Stability AI, Midjourney, and DeviantArt for alleged copyright violations.